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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Criminal Sentence 80: "-ly" Adverbs

A common mistake I see:

"That is a poorly-worded sentence."

In this sentence, you don't need a hyphen. Normally you would use a hyphen to link up words that join up to modify a noun, as in "well-worded sentence," but here you don't need one because the "-ly" in the adverb ("poorly") automatically links up with the next word.

So, hyphens are usually good, but in this case one is not.


Zak said...

As a copy editor, I see that error all the time. Good one to highlight. I know neither of the following is an adverb, but I like the example of "family-friendly attractions" as a counterpoint to this rule because each is an -ly word, yet the hyphen is acceptable.

wordwhisperer said...

I love that I learn something new almost every day. Thank you for this post; you have explained it so that even I can understand how to use adverbs.